Metaphysical Emergence: Weak and Strong

Note: this is a stable June 2012 draft of a paper (uploaded to PhilSci archive), some of the content of which will enter into a book-in-progress, _Metaphysical Emergence_. Nearly all accounts of emergence take this to involve both broadly synchronic dependence and (some measure of) ontological and causal autonomy. Beyond this agreement, however, accounts of emergence diverge into a bewildering variety, reflecting that the core notions of dependence and autonomy have multiple, often incompatible interpretations. Luckily for philosophical purposes, however, much of this apparent diversity is superficial---or so I argue in this paper. I start by considering a notorious problematic associated with special science entities---namely, the problem of higher-level causation (a generalization of the problem of mental causation). As we will see, of the various strategies for addressing this problem there are two which plausibly accommodate both the dependence and the ontological and causal autonomy of special science entities. These strategies in turn suggest two distinct schema for metaphysical emergence, which I call 'Weak' and 'Strong' emergence, respectively. The two schema are similar in that each imposes a (different, specific) condition on the powers of entities taken to be emergent, relative to the powers of their dependence base entities. (Importantly, the notion of “power” at issue here is metaphysically almost entirely neutral, primarily reflecting commitment just to the plausible thesis that what causes an entity may---perhaps only contingently---bring about are associated with how the entity is---that is, with its features.) But the conditions, and accounts, are also crucially different; in particular, one is compatible with physicalism, while the other is not. I go on to consider the main accounts of emergent dependence and emergent autonomy, showing how, properly understood and (in some cases) diambiguated, these aim to instantiate one or the other schema.
Keywords Emergence  Metaphysics  fundamentality  grounding  physicalism  British Emergentists  realization  degrees of freedom  determinable/determinate relation  subset realization
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